Week 18 featured upsets like the Titans beating the Jaguars. It also featured a great but flawed performance by Bills’ Quarterback Josh Allen. Jake Browning’s girlfriend went viral(If you don’t know why, google her). The playoffs are set, and next weekend will be a fun week. Rams vs Lions is an epic matchup, and watching the Packers take on the Cowboys will be interesting. Do you think there will be any Ice Bowl References?
Old Joe Flacco takes on rookie sensation C.J. Stroud, and the Chiefs and Dolphins will be a rematch of two struggling teams with the talent to make a run. At first glance the Steelers vs Bills seems a mismatch, but the Steelers are a gritty bunch that you can never count out. The Philly/Tampa matchup will be intriguing just because the Eagles have fallen apart, but have they fallen enough to lose to the average Buccaneers?
Even Steeler fans wanted him fired a few weeks ago, yet with Mason Rudolph as Quarterback, the Steelers somehow beat the Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens at the end of the season to finish the year at 10-7. Tomlin has not had a losing season in over a decade as the Steelers’ Head Coach. Tomlin wins with what he has, and the talent is not outstanding on this Steelers team. Say what you want about beating the Lamar Jackson-less Ravens, but they beat them with Lamar earlier in the season. The Steelers played their final three games with these starters on D: Eric Rowe, safety, signed to practice squad Nov. 20. Patrick Peterson, safety, playing the position for the second time. Myles Jack, linebacker, returned from retirement on Nov. 20. Levi Wallace, corner, returned from benching on Dec. 23. The Steelers allowed an average of 14.6 points in those three games. Mike Tomlin can flat out coach!
Will Andeson Jr. and Deneco Ryans are special also, making the Texans a genuine threat in next week’s playoffs. Stroud was on point in his first-ever big-game and that’s an excellent sign for the entire Texans organization. It’s possible that both Anderson and Stroud will be the offensive and defensive rookies of the year, and Ryan is in the running for the Coach of the Year. I expect the Texans to dominate this division for years to come.
The Colts had a fourth and one driving to score and clinch a playoff berth. So, what did they do? They lined up in the shotgun and threw a pass! Mind you; they had gotten back in the game after being down a touchdown at halftime by running the ball down the Texan’s throats. Sure, the execution stopped the play from working, but the safe bet would have been to run the ball with Moss or Taylor. Overall, though, Head Coach Shane Steichen did a great job in his first year with a team that wasn’t expected to win more than five games.
Trevor Lawrence has sometimes shown glimpses of greatness, but he has an issue with consistency. He doesn’t measure up to the great young quarterbacks like Stroud and Burrow. It’s been a few years, and Lawrence is still just 1-1 in the playoffs. Since he was the number one pick in the draft a few years ago, he is trending towards being a bust. Next season will be a gigantic year for him to prove himself.
Baker Mayfield has been a tremendous story this season, and now he has led the Bucs to the playoffs. The issue here is that he is a hot and cold quarterback, and as the Bucs head to the playoffs, he couldn’t be much colder. Tampa’s offense has went south in the last two weeks, and that does not lead to a long playoff run. The Bucs’ defense is good, but they will be one-and-done unless Mayfield can get hot.
The Eagles played their starters against the New York Giants on Sunday and failed miserably as Jalen Hurts came out early injured, and A.J. Brown came out injured. Before this game, they looked to be in trouble with an already fractured locker room. The Eagles will begin what should be a short stay in the playoffs next weekend with an injured and underperforming Quarterback. The loss of the Offensive and defensive coordinators is an underrated factor for why this team is falling apart.
Call it the ultimate storyline game as Jared Goff leads the Rams to his old stomping ground to battle the Jared Goff-led Detroit Lions. Goff led the Rams to a Super Bowl just a few years back, and these two quarterbacks will both be out to prove their former teams wrong. The Rams are dangerous with a future hall-of-fame Quarterback, a stud running back, and two great wide receivers. The Lions will, as always, have to overcome the curse of being the Lions.
Both the 49ers and Ravens set their best players in week 18. On the surface, it makes sense, but now you will be looking at three weeks off for those starters. If you remember, in 2019, the Ravens did the same thing and came out flat in a divisional-round loss to the Titans. There is a long history of teams sitting out their starters and things going awry in the divisional playoff round. If you are a Wildcard team, I can see taking a week off, but taking two seems risky. If you don’t believe me, ask Tony Dungy.
The Giants look headed for the number one pick a month into the season, which surprised me because I thought Brian Daboll was an outstanding coach. When the team looked done, though, the Giants resurrected Tyrod Taylor’s career, and the Giants finished strong. The question now will be, do you go with Taylor or Jones next year?
I would pick this team out of the AFC if Josh Allen quit turning the ball over so much. Allen was 30-38 on Sunday for 359 yards, but he threw two costly interceptions in the first half of the game, which kept the Dolphins in a game they had no business in. The Dolphins shut down the Bills run game, but they had no answer for Josh Allen. If it weren’t for the number of interceptions he has thrown this season, he would be the MVP.
The Bills open up the playoffs against the Steelers, and if Allen takes care of the ball, the Bills will win that game easily. But from what we have seen this season, that probably won’t happen.
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